Hillsdale School and Library Collaborate For Reading, Pizza
The "Pizza and Pages" program gives students at George G. White Middle School the opportunity to read and discuss books outside of their English classes.
A program at Hillsdale's George G. White Middle School offers students the opportunity to discuss books outside of the classroom while enjoying a slice of pizza.
The "Pizza and Pages" program is a collaboration between school Media Specialist Stacey Belhumer and Laura Leonard from the Hillsdale Library. Seventh- and eighth-graders read in their fee time and meet in the school's library during lunch to talk about the books. They have averaged about six books each year since the program started in 2009.
"We're serving the same population, so it's a great opportunity to work together and collaborate," Leonard said.
The pizza is a great motivator for the students, but the discussions do get lively. The students often open up more than they do in class because there's no pressure or grades involved. Belhumer and Leonard provide topics to get the discussion started, then the students usually take off on their own.
"It's really a lot of fun," Belhumer said.
The students are given a wide variety of books in different genres to read, Leonard said. Many of them are Garden State Teen Book Award nominees. This year's books have included Uglies, Mockingbird, Elephant Run, The Red Pyramid and Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life.
This year, they have had 18 or more students at each meeting, about even numbers of boys and girls, and have started getting younger siblings of former participants.
"They can't wait to get in," Leonard said.
The program has been such a hit with students that some have even emailed Belhumer about the books during their summer vacation, she said.
Between the school, library and other towns in the Bergen County Cooperative System, "Pizza and Pages" can get enough copies of the books so that students don't need to buy them. The pizza money comes from the school's FFA and the Friends of the Library.
In the future, Leonard said they may try using Skype to let the students talk directly with the authors.